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“3 Things Churches Love That KILL Outreach”

It is September and soon FUMC will be having its Charge Conference.  It is time when churches charge into the new year and plan and prepare for that.  We look at the past year and then see what has worked and what has not.  It is always an exciting time with much discussion.  One of the sayings that the staff here uses is CANEI:  Constant And Never Ending Improvement!  In other words, how did we do on something and how can we improve.  With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves how we are doing as a church.  Are we on the same page?  The following was written by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research.

All churches love certain things.  Some love fellowship, some worship, some prayer.  Those are good loves.  Some are neutral loves.  Some are not.  Other churches love their building, their history or their strategy.

Those can be good or bad, depending on what we mean by love and how we value those things.  But some things that churches love hurt their mission and hinder their call.  Here are three I’ve observed from my work with thousands of churches.

Too many churches love past culture more than their current context.

It’s remarkable, and I’ve said it many times:  If the 1950s came back, many churches are ready.  (Or the 1600s, or the boomer ‘80s, depending on your denomination I guess.)

There is nothing wrong with the fifties, except we don’t live there anymore.  We must love those who live here, now, not yearn for the way things used to be.  The cultural sensibilities of the fifties are long past in most of the United States.  The values and norms of our current context are drastically different and continue to change.  The task of contextualization is paramount to the mission of the church because we are called to understand and speak to those around us in a meaningful way.  We can learn much from the Apostle Paul’s example recorded in Acts 17:16-34.

So, a church on a mission – in this time and place – engages the people around it.  Yes, in some ways, it resembles its context – a biblically faithful church living in its cultural concept.  But if your church loves a past era more than the current mission, it loves the wrong thing.

Too many churches love their comfort more than their mission.

The fact is, your church probably needs to be less focused on what makes it happy and more focused on what pleases Jesus.  This is an easy trap to fall into because it happens very subtly. 

Most churches have worked hard to get to a place where congregational customers are happy – their needs are met.  The problem is that we are not called to cater to customers.  We are called to equip co-laborers.  When we win the affections of those inside our circles, it becomes hard to pull away from the affirmation we receive.  Again, this only becomes a problem when the affirmation of those on the inside works to the detriment of our mission to those on the outside.  It is a lot easier to settle down with the people who are like us than to reach the foreigner or alien among us.

So, a church does not exist for the comfort of its people.  Actually, the Bible reminds us again and again that we are to “provoke one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), and more.  But, if your church loves its comfort more than caring for others, it loves the wrong thing.

(To be Continued … )

Serving God Together,
Pastor Bud

About Rev. Bud Budzinski

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